Sale Sharks will unveil former Saracens assistant coach Alex Sanderson as their new director of rugby on Friday.
Sale, who currently sit in fourth place in the Gallagher Premiership table, had been hunting for a replacement for longstanding director of rugby Steve Diamond since his departure on December 8.
Sanderson, who played with Diamond at Sale, will be moving back to where his top-flight playing career began to oversee the work of current head coach Paul Deacon, who had taken interim charge of the first team following Diamond’s exit, alongside assistants Dorian West, Pete Anglesea, and Mike Forshaw.
Telegraph Sport understands that familial links to the North West, as well as an ambition to become the lead figure at a Premiership club, formed the basis for the 41-year-old’s decision. He is due to take up his new role imminently.
The former back-rower, who won five caps for England, will arrive at Sale on the back of a regal period with Saracens. As a player, Sanderson moved to the north London club in 2004 but was forced to retire due to a back injury in 2005, igniting his transition to coaching. From 2008, with Sanderson as forwards coach — defence was later added to his remit — the club entered a 10-year golden era, winning five Premiership titles and three European Cups, as well as two losing final appearances in the former and one in the latter.
Sanderson’s appointment at Sale acts as further proof of Saracens’ ability to nurture off-field talents with Paul Gustard, Harlequins director of rugby, Andy Farrell, Ireland head coach, Steve Borthwick, Leicester head coach and now Sanderson all beginning their coaching voyages at the north London club. The departure of their forwards and defence coach is the second in 12 months for Saracens’ senior coaching group, after strength and conditioning coach Andy Edwards ended a 15-year association with the club in July last year to take up a role with the Springboks.
Saracens, who will be looking to bounce straight back to the Premiership when the Championship begins in March, are yet to announce whether they will be seeking a replacement for Sanderson, but Mark McCall, the club’s director of rugby, has a penchant for promoting from within.
Although the length of Sanderson’s Sale contract is not yet known, the club’s newly-appointed CEO, Sid Sutton, said that "the majority of the squad and staff are committed to the club on long-term contracts" in an address to fans on Wednesday. Sutton explained, too, that if the "right person" were to become available, someone who could "complement what we have in the right ways", then the club would act accordingly for the "successful future of the club".
“We are extremely pleased with how the coaching team have taken the job on under very difficult circumstances," Sutton added. "The owners and I have been nothing but impressed with Deacs [Paul Deacon] and anybody who may be brought in needs to complement him in his role. It is of importance that we keep our current coaching team in place as we have an outstanding team leading our group of players."